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Well, what a year 2020 was!

The world changed. The UK worked from home (where possible), and the way people shopped changed; potentially forever.

For businesses, this was a year to pivot and adapt their offering on the fly and some managed this process fantastically; they focused on customer experience, took their offering online and were understanding of the current climate and people’s needs.

Cote example email

Take restaurants for example.

Those that are still operating are the ones that have pivoted to offering deliveries rather than just eat in, have created cook at home food boxes to bring the food to them, or have offered recipes online of how to make some of their most popular items to keep their audience engaged.

And at the heart of every online business is data.

Data to tell you what’s happening in your business.

Data to identify your customers.

Data to offer more personalised experiences.

And email marketing is a core channel to communicate with those customers and prospects and use your data to educate, inspire and convert them successfully.

What happened with email in 2020?

Through 2020 we’ve seen email marketing once again come to the very forefront of marketing strategies. Not just the gentle workhorse in the background that just gets on with it and generates results for you, brands relied heavily on email as a primary channel to communicate key messages about the functionality of their business throughout Covid-19, but also to offer their products and services to people; that couldn’t go to the shops, or those that may have been having delivery issues with their regular brand choices and needed more options.

Because of this change, consumers have a lot more choice over the online stores they shop at and the services they access. So brands have a lot more work to do to break through the noise and build loyalty in new customers to create continuous growth in their business.

In 2020 we scrabbled as marketers to adapt our strategies in real time, remove inappropriate or potentially ill-timed communications, and look at key ways to engage and connect with our audiences.

We had to think about what was going on in the world around us and adapt our messaging strategies, send times and pause campaigns.

 

What does this mean for 2021 email marketing trends in 2021?

Here are my predictions for email marketing in 2021:

 

Increased focus on the customer lifecycle

We all know we need to send the right message to the right person at the right time, but how do we do this practically?

Firstly we need to understand and identify where a prospect or customer is within the customer lifecycle.

You can do this using behavioural data (what are people clicking on within your emails or on your website? What content are they engaging with? What are they doing on your website?) and purchase data, for example.

This will also help you to segment your audience better within this stages; for example, this in the Engagement & Loyalty stage depending on how many times they’ve purchased previously.

If you can understand where people are, you can deliver the information that they need at that stage; whether that be to make their first purchase with you or build their ongoing loyalty. Each stage represents different needs for each of your customer personas (types).

Think about what videos, articles, information or steps someone needs to take with your business to move through each stage.

In 2021, those companies that work on filling the gaps in their automated and manual campaigns around the customer lifecycle (based on their business objectives to drive priority implementations) will be the ones who most successfully make a connection with their customers and drive results for their business.

 

Being more understanding of your customers

We’ve seen examples of companies sending messages before Mother’s day, Father’s day and Valentine’s day for example, to ask if the subscriber would like to receive those themed message types; knowing that these times can be difficult for many and they may not want to be reminded.

In 2021 I think, and I hope, that we will have more brands that actually think about their subscribers as people. They consider their emotions, the world climate and how their message will sit within that.

Take a look at your own messaging. Have you reviewed your automated campaigns recently to check they’re still in line with your current messaging strategy? Do you adapt your manual campaigns for local events/disasters?

 

Interactivity in email to boost engagement

There are four parts to a successful email marketing strategy

  1.   Quality data
  2.   Clear objectives and strategy
  3.   Great content (targeted and personalised to the recipient)
  4.   Design that encourages engagement

It’s part 4 here that I think we will see rising over the next year; interactive email that allows for more dynamic engagement within your email. Mini website experiences.

We’ve already started to see this increased functionality being used by brands.

Take this example from McDonalds.

It uses a carousel to allow mobile viewers to scroll through the different toys on offer, side to side, allowing more content in one place and bringing interactivity to the content.

Consider the different types of interactivity available using HTML or AMP and find tactics that algin to your strategy and overall objectives.

Then use those tactics to enhance your messages in these areas.

What have you seen working in your business over the last year? What are you focussing on for 2021?

Let me know in the comments below!